Streamlining C2 Operations for the U.S. Air Force

Enabling Access to Data via Cloud Infrastructure

Transforming Air Force C2 systems requires a suite of cloud environments, networks, and applications to truly fight real-time threats with operational impact at a pace faster than the nation's adversaries. The same capabilities that have been locked in servers at central operational locations need to be moved to cloud-network environments and then made available in distributed edge environments and across domains.

Such a cloud infrastructure needs to be built with modern solutions that accommodate data-centric requirements. Getting the right data to where it is needed is crucial. Open architectures, common standards, and government-owned application programming interfaces take data out of closed, proprietary legacy systems to maximize discovery and interoperability.

Enhanced resiliency is another benefit of moving to many distributed cloud networks and node capabilities at the edge to support real-time battles. Potential adversaries have developed electromagnetic technologies that can deny or degrade access to data or make access intermittent. In that environment, monolithic systems present a single point of failure if successfully attacked. By contrast, C2 capabilities made of systems-of-systems provide for more resilient operations thanks to redundancies and technologies such as mesh networks that operate without traditional cloud infrastructure.

Edge Connect to Move Information Where It’s Needed

Connectivity at the edge is another key focus in developing new Air Force C2 systems. Forward airborne forces need relevant data and information in a tactically significant timeline to achieve their missions. To realize this, hardware and software across the engagement chain must be integrated. And machine-to-machine data transmission needs to happen in seconds or sub-seconds.

Consider a cutting-edge target identification capability. A warfighter going into a target needs data transparency and digital connectivity across pertinent domains to ensure the target is correct—and not a friendly force vehicle, for instance. Fusing real-time sensor target data from multiple platforms with intelligence, cyber, and network data from across domains delivers higher quality target identification than relying on a single sensor.

But in the digital battlespace, traditional communications channels and networks may be disrupted or denied. Edge connect capabilities employ mesh networks to provide resiliency, redundancy, and scale, essentially creating innumerable data pathways to support tactical communications and C2. These form the foundation on which data access is sustained and edge computing capabilities can be launched. And modern tactical C2 systems can connect and integrate with legacy and future tactical communications systems.

Exploiting Data with Battle Management Capabilities

An integrated Air Force battle management C2 system is the interface that brings together data from cloud networks with edge-connected effectors to maximize effects in concert with the commander’s priorities and directives. A modern tactical C2 system securely connects sensors, decision makers, and shooters across the battlespace. It builds, fuses, and distributes a common operating picture across the joint and combined forces, and establishes remote voice and data communications for operational control from any location, worldwide.

Battle management decisions are aided by AI, which fuses, correlates, and analyzes the vast amounts of data being ingested. Machine learning can also be employed to train AI to provide options to commanders on whether to strike a target or take another action. Such data-driven fires and airspace integration accelerate responsiveness of the right asset to the right place without significant manual intervention, which is slow and risks introducing errors.

Ultimately, the ability to connect, ingest, fuse, correlate, and analyze data from across the multidomain spectrum can enhance effects integration on a global scale. With a variety of weapons systems available from across domains, the Air Force can present adversaries with a broad array of kinetic and non-kinetic effects in conjunction with its own domain weapons, increasing battlespace complexity to overwhelm and defeat the enemy.

Booz Allen Is the Air Force’s C2 Systems Partner

Booz Allen is helping the Air Force develop and deploy a wide range of joint all-domain solutions in support of its revolutionary ABMS initiative. We support modernization across all aspects of the Air Force’s strategic and tactical C2 enterprise.

Employing open systems design, modern software, and AI and ML applications, we develop a connected ecosystem of digital capabilities and technologies across multiple platforms, including legacy systems and domains. This interoperable framework supports rapid data collection and analysis, uninterrupted communication, faster decisions, and enhanced performance—from enterprise to the tactical edge.

Solution Spotlight: Modular Detachment Kit

Booz Allen’s Modular Detachment Kit (MDK) is an integrated software/hardware system-of-systems that accelerates sensor-to-shooter effects by enhancing battlespace awareness, sensing, connectivity, and data fusion across multiple warfighting domains, networks, sensors, and weapon systems. The overarching goal of MDK is to integrate remote and local sensors, datalinks, and radio assets into a tactical battle management C2 environment to provide near-real-time C2 of geographically dispersed assets.

MDK uniquely addresses today’s in-theater C2 needs unlike any other solution, making it easier for commanders and warfighters to get their job done today while providing a robust platform to build out future capabilities. Leveraging modular, tailorable, scalable, decentralized C2 and sensor nodes, MDK builds, fuses, and distributes a common operating picture across the joint all-domain spectrum. It also establishes remote voice and data communications to positively control any military operation from any location.

At Project Convergence 2022, the capabilities and practical application of MDK were demonstrated in both the maritime- and land-centric-scenarios. Highlights included:

  • Integrating data from multiple sensors, including remotely piloted vehicles, and injecting tracks and targets into the common operational picture
  • Sending specific targets digitally to U.S. Army Pacific AFATDS on classified networks for forwarding through to the mission partner network for fire mission processing at both the Army’s multidomain task force and fires cells
  • Facilitating network and cursor-on-target links to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA’s) system-of-systems enhanced small unit (SESU) team—the first time it’s been able to connect outside its system
  • Providing interface/message format diagnostics for DARPA SESU to ensure proper automated data exchange
  • Extending classified and unclassified networks for airfield connectivity

Booz Allen can help your organization realize the potential of modernized C2 systems to excel in the digital battlespace.